Video is your secret weapon for professional growth 

I understand why getting started with video intimidates so many people.

Consider YouTube, the dominant video platform.

As a creator, Youtube is a nightmare when you’re starting out. The platform is a sprawling mess with its own set of conventions and rituals, from creators tweaking their content to appease YouTube’s algorithm to begging viewers to like and subscribe.

And let’s not even get started on thumbnails. Who wants to make faces like this?

But there’s another side of making videos. One where you ignore the social network aspects of YouTube and use it as a service to showcase your work and your potential. In this mode, Youtube is really more of a free, easy-to-use video hosting platform. Taking this approach might not get you to megawatt influencer status, but it will give you an advantage that sets you apart from your peers.

This approach to video is quieter and smarter. In this approach, entrepreneurs, students, and professionals use video as a tool to advance their careers and support their work. Creators are unaffected by changes to the YouTube algorithm. Creators freely ignore the “like” and social share buttons. They feel no anxiety when they click “publish.” And some of your most watched videos are only available to small sets of people.

If you’re curious about making videos but unsure of where to start, I’ll review five low-stakes, high value ways to get started. Instead of maximizing for view counts, this approach gives you confidence on camera, a slow burn approach to understanding techniques, clarity of expression, and the ability to make someone’s day.

Getting started: The “hello video”

The first video you post online is usually shouting into the void. You spent considerable time and energy on it and you rack up a grand total of three views. 

It’s disheartening and dispiriting for something you worked this hard on to have such little impact.

Instead, send a “hello video.” Send a video to a friend or an acquaintance letting them know you were thinking about them. It need not be longer than thirty seconds. 

The hello video is a minimum viable video. It removes the need to strategize about content and jumps directly into the practice of video creation.

A hello video not only makes the recipient’s day, but gives you valuable experience in front of the camera. If you’re new to making videos, you need to frontload as much camera time as possible. Because the intended audience is so small, you don’t get hung up on minor issues like a shadow on your face or suboptimal mic placement.

When the recipient responds (and they will respond, because it’s a rare treat to receive a personalized video), ask them how you could improve your delivery. Implementing feedback will set you on a path of regular improvement.

The hello video approach, like the others below, is intended for smaller audiences. In most cases, the video styles below are built for an audience of one person. After you make ten hello videos, consider the styles of video below.

For getting the interview: The job application video

When you apply for a job, send a video along with your resume. Create a well-crafted, under-a-minute video that expresses thoughts about the impact you could make and why you’re a good fit. 

Your resume highlights your hard skills. Your video reveals soft skills. It highlights your communication skills, intangibles, and positive attributes your resume can’t convey. Most importantly, this approach is innovative so it reinforces you as a creative, motivated, and effective person—exactly the type of person most organizations want.

For getting the job: Post-job interview video

Instead of a thank you email for a job interview, send a short video expressing your gratitude for the opportunity and your excitement about working together. Video reminds them of your personality and presence more vividly than an email. My significant other did this and she got the job (congrats, Sarah!).

For building a network: Outreach and conference follow up videos

If I make a valuable contact at a conference—whether it’s in-person or virtual—my follow up emails don’t always get a response. It could be because my work isn’t aligned with their needs. 

But it also could be that they met dozens of people and the names and faces became a blur. My message simply got lost in the mix. 

A quick video recalling salient points of our conversation reminds them who I am, why we should chat, and puts me top of mind. This approach also works if you DIDN’T meet a desired contact at a conference—I have a friend who uses this method to get in touch with conference speakers when she is unable to connect at the session.

For closing deals: Video accompanying a proposal

Whenever I have a larger deal in play, I always send a video along with the proposal. This type of video recaps the potential of working together, reinforces why my value prop is superior, and reminds them that working with my company is a different experience. 

My success rate on closing deals with this approach is over 50%. It works so well that I’m still confused why more people don’t do this.

That’s a wrap

Video’s potential to accelerate career growth is reaching an inflection point.

In this article, we’ve covered four approaches to video that provide immediate value to learning the medium and making it work for you: The hello video, the pre- and post-job interview video, the conference follow up, and the proposal accompaniment. 

All that’s left is to hit record.

P.S. Need an audience for your hello video? My twitter DMs are open.

Thanks to Jen, Frankie, Adam, Christina, Tim, Sher, Julia, and Nate